|To match a Russian Feast...
Fish with Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce
Tevsi Brotseulis Tsvenshi
this will get them guessing what the ingredients are and going back for more
- I n g r e d i e n t s -
Note : Theses are the things that you should have on hand.
The amounts should be determined by your own style and sensibilities.
The Fish - 2 1/2 Pounds
In order of desirability: Black Cod (Sable fish), Ling Cod, Red Snapper, or Talapia
Salt - to taste Pepper Medley - Freshly ground Tarragon - Dried Olive Oil
Red Onions - 2 cut into rings Butter - a cube or more on-hand
Walnuts - Pieces, 1 cup or less, chopped Garlic - 2 large cloves, peeled
Red Peppers and Jalapenos as noted - To make 3/4 Cup
Oat Flour - 3 Tablespoons, or all purpose white flour can be used
Pomegranate Juice - 16 oz., half of that reduced Water if needed
- T o o l s -
Live fire Grill or the closest thing
Knife, Cutting Board, Measuring Cup and Spoons
1 Large Frying Pan, 2 small Frying Pans, one with curved sides, Spatulas
A brightly colored chaffing dish, which will be your Serving Dish
- T h e B i g P i c t u r e -
Cold fish dishes are a big part of the appetizer table, and this is one of the more unusual
traditional dishes which is more Georgian than Russian. I have adapted this from a recipe from
Darra Goldstein found in her great book The Georgian Feast.
This version eliminates the tomato paste, looks substantially better, tastes better, and is about
three times as complicated. This recipes is a multi-tasking invitation, so please read the entire
recipe to figure out your particular strategy. Now I must say, when you take the fish off the grill,
this recipe should stop there, but that's not the dish, so......
Black Cod or Sable fish and Ling Cod are the two top choices,
but don't drive yourself crazy if you can't find them. Red Snapper is a good second choice,
followed by Talapia or similar white fish. Making it the night before will give it enough
time for it to settle in and chill. This will be enough appetizer for 20+ people.
- T h e F i s h F i r e a n d O n i o n F r y -
The night before is a good time to get started on this one. Wash your fish and lay it out so you
can sprinkle it with Salt, grind on a medley of green, white, and pink Peppercorns, and a generous
sprinkling of dried Tarragon. Flip it and do the same. Pour a coating of non-fancy olive oil on
the fish and let it sit for about a half hour or longer. The ideal way to cook this is over the
campfire with a smoky oak fire. If you don't have a fire ring, then build one, unless you only have
an apartment balcony. In which case, a hibachi or something larger can be used with a few soaked
wood chips for the smoke. On our campfire, I use those clamping holders for the fish to make it
easy to turn and use the old top from a Weber to keep in the smoke and heat. As you are grilling,
drizzle on a bit of the olive oil every couple of minutes. This will dribble off the fish and fall into
the fire, causing that refluxing of smoke which gives it the flavor. Don't ever add so much olive
oil that you see black smoke. Don't over-cook the fish! When you see it start to flake and
separate it is done. Have your final serving dish ready and get the fish off the heat and out of the
clamper. Keep it on the rare side to keep it juicy. Transferring into your final serving dish
at this point conserves all the juice which will jell later. Go back inside
and put the fish into the refrigerator to cool.
The next step is to sauté the red onions. Peel the two Red Onions and cut them into discs
between 1/8th and 1/4 inch thick and separate them. In a large frying pan with a lid, melt a
generous amount of butter, about a half of a cube. Once the butter has gently melted, put in all
of your onion rings which you have separated into individual rings. Over medium heat initially,
let the onions fry for a while without any browning, turn them so they all get coated with the
butter. Then after about five minutes, reduce the heat, put on the lid, and let them soften with
only occasional flipping. When all of the crispness of the onions has changed to softness, then
you are there, which should take 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer the onions and top the fish evenly,
but retain all of the juice and butter in the frying pan for the next step.
Retaining this juice is important.
- G e t t i n g S a u c e d -
There are several steps to the sauce, this is where the multi-tasking comes in. Get started on two,
the longest one is to reduce the pomegranate juice and the other is roasting the walnuts.
The easiest way to get pomegranate juice is to buy a 16 oz bottle of the POM brand.
It is from concentrate, but it's good, just be careful you don't buy a sweetened version.
However, if pomegranates are in season, hot dog! You can squeeze your own juice and use the
seeds for decoration. To reduce the Pomegranate Juice, put about 8 oz in a saucepan and warm
over medium-low heat until it looses a third to a half of its volume.
Reserve the other 8 oz of the juice.
You need to roast about one cup or less of Walnut Pieces, this is the very Georgian part of the
dish. Use your favorite method of roasting with the additions that follow. I like to use a shallow,
curve sided, stainless steel pan so I can flip the nuts by tossing them up in the air. ( The trick to
doing this is to only watch the lead nut as it comes up and out of the pan toward you. If you
catch the lead-nut, you will catch all the others.) Before roasting the walnuts, chop them with a
knife so the pieces are not bigger than 1/4 inch and not smaller than 1/8th. Do not use any kind
of a processor to chop the nuts because they will make a certain portion of fine meal, which will
turn your sauce brown instead of attractively pink. Roast the chopped walnuts in your pan and
when they have turned a little brown add less than a Tablespoon of Butter and about a half of a
teaspoon of Salt. Continue to flip and roast them until the next stage of browning. Remove
them from the pan leaving as many of the brown skins behind as possible and let them cool.
Now you want to make the roux.
In the pan that you used to sauté the onion rings, there should be the reserved butter and onion
juice from that process. Put medium heat under the pan and add a half cube of butter,
(4 Tablespoons) let it melt, but don't let it brown. Once melted slowly add 3 Tablespoons of Oat
or Wheat Flour while whisking. Once it is in 'solution' then slowly add in the reduced
pomegranate juice whisking all the time. Now start adding the rest of the reserved juice
(not reduced) until it has reached a thin sauce consistency. If you run out of juice, use water.
Making a roux resists recipes, so feel free to go where the roux wants to take you,
but still, not too thick.
- The Peppers -
To the essentially completed roux, you need to add some more color and a little flavor. Do this
with chopped red peppers. The first choice is a hot or sweet Red Pepper that you are only going
to find at a farmer's market. The next choice is a jalapeno pepper that has turned red, and the last
choice is a red bell pepper. In all cases, eliminate the stems and seeds. In the hot cases, you can
leave a small amount of the vein on which will add a little kick, which is quite desirable. If you
are using red bell peppers, you can add some jalapeno with some vein to get the picante right.
Dice up the peppers until you have about a 3 quarters of a Cup. Put the most of it in the hot
roux, and reserve the rest for the topping. Cook them for a couple of minutes to let the flavor
incorporate and to soften them just a bit. Then add about a hand full of the roasted Walnuts and
simmer gently for another couple of minutes. Reserve the rest of the walnuts for decoration.
Adjust the salt level to what you want, add more liquid until you have the thinnish consistency,
and the sauce is done.
In the refrigerator is your fish topped with the onions. Pour the sauce over all of that.
The sauce should be thin enough that you will still see some of the onion rings poking through.
Take the reserved Walnuts, sprinkle them on, and then confetti on the remaining diced peppers.
At long last, you are done. Put it back into the refrigerator, covered with film, and let it cool.
- T o T h e A p p e t i z e r T a b l e -
Take the dish out of the refrigerator, and with a serving spatula you complete everything,
dream about good food and what you are going to say on your second toast.
We would like to thank Darra Goldstein for inspiring this recipe.
The author of At the Dacha, Russian Home Cooking
This book is out of print, and it must be loved because it's hard to find used ones,
but she has others. Go to Amazon.com and type in Darra Goldstein in the search box.
We have adapted her recipes here and there, but done under the watchful eye of Andy Zaharoff.